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In a German Pension


but in the town it is not at all the same thing.”
Prompted by the thought, he wiped his neck and face with his dinner napkin
and carefully cleaned his ears.
A glass dish of stewed apricots was placed upon the table.
”Ah, fruit!” said Fraulein Stiegelauer, ”that is so necessary to health.
The doctor told me this morning that the more fruit I could eat the
better.”
She very obviously followed the advice.
Said the Traveller: ”I suppose you are frightened of an invasion, too, eh?
Oh, that’s good. I’ve been reading all about your English play in a
newspaper. Did you see it?”
”Yes.” I sat upright. ”I assure you we are not afraid.”
”Well, then, you ought to be,” said the Herr Rat. ”You have got no army at
all–a few little boys with their veins full of nicotine poisoning.”
”Don’t be afraid,” Herr Homann said. ”We don’t want England. If we did
we would have had her long ago. We really do not want you.”
He waved his spoon airily, looking across at me as though I were a little
child whom he would keep or dismiss as he pleas ed.
”We certainly do not want Germany,” I said.
”This morning I took a half bath. Then this afternoon I must take a knee
bath and an arm bath,” volunteered the Herr Rat; ”then I do my exercises
for an hour, and my work is over. A glass of wine and a couple of rolls
with some sardines–”
They were handed cherry cake with whipped cream.
”What is your husband’s favourite meat?” asked the Widow.
”I really do not know,” I answered.
”You really do not know? How long have you been married?”
4
”Three years.”
”But you cannot be in earnest! You would not have kept house as his wife
for a week without knowing that fact.”
”I really never asked him; he is not at all particular about his food.”
A pause. They all looked at me, shaking their heads, their mouths full of
cherry stones.
”No wonder there is a repetition in England of that dreadful state of
things in Paris,” said the Widow, folding her dinner napkin. ”How can a
woman expect to keep her husband if she does not know his favourite food
after three years?”
”Mahlzeit!”
”Mahlzeit!”
I closed the door aft er me.
2. THE BARON.
”Who is he?” I said. ”And why does he sit always alone, with his back to
us, too?”
”Ah!” whispered the Frau Oberregierungsrat, ”he is a BARON.”
She looked at me very solemnly, and yet with the slightest possible
contempt–a ”fancy-not-recognising-that -at-the-first-glance” expression.
”But, poor soul, he cannot help it,” I said. ”Surely that unfortunate fact
ought not to debar him from the pleasures of intellectual intercourse.”
If it had not been for her fork I think she would have crossed herself.
”Surely you cannot understand. He is one of the First Barons.”
More than a little unnerved, she turned and spoke to the Frau Doktor on
her
left.
”My omelette is empty–EMPTY,” she protested, ”and this is the third I
have
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